Made in China: The maze of Yiwu Market

In the center of China's eastern Zhejiang Province lies Commodity City, which is the largest small-commodity wholesale market in the world.

As a migraine of intensity and energy, the shopper's paradise is a 5-story commodity maze of all things ‘Made in China’ from jewelry, toys, ornaments, clothes. According to the locals, if you spent 3 minutes at each stall for 8 hours a day, it would take you an entire year to see the whole market.

Photographer Richard John Seymour has artistically documented this flux in a series called Consumed, with the Yiwu Commodity City being the most visually stunning collection.

The area was originally home to farmers. However, economic reform swept across China in 80s like wildfire and turned this farmland in a market and the people from humble farmers to Gordon Gekkost.

"The atmosphere of the market was quite unusual in that one gets the sense that it really is home to a community," he said. "The second trip I made to the market was during school summer vacation, and because of this there were children in a huge number of the stores who obviously (spent) the day in the market with their parents. There were also children running and playing throughout the market, riding scooters along its vast corridors, chasing each other around, etc. It gave the impression that this was more than just a place of business, but a place of life, something that took me by surprise."

The photos are like an endless delivery of presents, as each and every shot unwraps an assortment of contents within the identically square-shaped booths of the sellers.

According to China's state-run news agency Xinhua, more than 60% of the world's Christmas decorations are made in Yiwu and wholesaled at Commodity City. The likelihood is relevant well beyond Christmastime, however. Whether enjoying the beach, purchasing clothing or even playing games at the local fairground, consider if the "Made in China" label imprinted on those inflatable beach balls, shirt buttons, and cuddly teddy bears perhaps connects all the way to one of the Commodity City booths.

"I believe that more and more, we are defining our environments not as the spaces themselves, in terms of the buildings or architecture, but rather by the objects and devices that we buy and surround ourselves with. ... I would like that message to carry through universally," Seymour said.



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